DVIDS – News – Army Colonel Reflects on Humble Upbringing and Improving Lives for Next Generation


FORT DETRICK, Md. — Growing up in poverty in southern Louisiana, Colonel Clayton Carr learned at an early age the importance of responsibility, hard work, and empowering others.

It was a necessity for Carr, who was raised largely by her grandparents after her mother struggled with substance abuse issues and her father wasn’t always around.

“My mom was only 15 when she had me…and my dad was 18,” Carr said. “Mom was always in and out of our lives. And I never really understood until I was older.

For Carr, those “older” years came quickly.

Living in a crowded four-bedroom house with more than a dozen family members, including his two younger siblings, Carr said he was barely a teenager – possibly 13 or 14 years old – when he learned how much his brothers, sisters and cousins ​​would need and admire him.

He credits the example set by his grandparents for setting him on the right path, teaching him skills he used around the house, such as cooking, cleaning, gardening and manual labor.

“I had to grow up quickly,” said Carr, who is currently the deputy chief of staff for operations at the US Army Medical Logistics Command. “I’ve always tried to be a good influence on my sisters and brothers.”

As the military recognizes February as Black History Month, Carr reflected on his difficult upbringing and how it helped him become the man he is today – a caring father. , a loving husband, a mentor to others and a soldier with over 25 years of experience. service to his nation.

Today, more than 181,000 black soldiers serve in all three components of the military, including active duty, reserves and the national guard. Their service helps the Army leverage its greatest strength – diversity – as it brings together people from different backgrounds, cultures and heritages.

“To me, Black History Month isn’t just a month, it’s the whole year,” said Carr, who compared the efforts and life of Martin Luther King Jr. to those of Jesus Christ. “He knew the danger of what he was doing – not just his life but his family’s – for something he believed in so much.

“That’s why I say people are more important than anything,” he added. “That’s why I’ve always put myself forward to make it better for others. You can’t save everyone… but the people you can save are worth it.

Sports at the service

Growing up, Carr developed a passion for sports, especially football, and gained a reputation for outplaying his opponents.

“I never lost a game before high school,” he said.

His talents and hard work on and off the court landed him a scholarship to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where the Ragin’ Cajuns converted high school linebacker and tight end into a solid safety.

Unfortunately, several injuries derailed his chances of playing professionally, so he turned to another love: the military.

“I always loved the military because of my grandfather,” Carr said. “He served in the army during World War II.”

Carr recalled stories from his grandfather, who spoke of the ruthless nature of the Japanese during the war. They would attach themselves to trees to surprise American troops and “just shoot and shoot until you kill them”.

“It wasn’t even a second thought,” Carr said of joining the military. “I went to join, and I went to the reserves” in 1989.

After basic training in 1990, the Gulf War broke out and Carr’s infantry unit went to train at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and then Fort Hood, Texas. But before they had a chance to deploy to support the war effort, the conflict was over and the call was made to stand down, Carr said.

He returned to school to complete his education, joining his younger brother, Robert, then an ROTC cadet and now an Army colonel, at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. in Therapeutic Recreation and Recreation Studies in 1995.

Rather than return to the Army Reserve, Carr decided to enter active duty. At age 30, he received a waiver to earn a commission in the Medical Service Corps.

“The rest is history from there,” he said.

Carr’s career has included a variety of medical logistics and supply roles for task forces and generators, primarily in the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command areas of responsibility.

He has held several positions at Fort Detrick since 2009, including as Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics at the former Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

Following a restructuring in 2019, the research, development, and acquisition elements of the MRMC were realigned with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command under Army Futures Command US Army, while logistics and support operations were assigned to the newly formed AMLC under US Army Materiel Command.

In 2014, he worked as the Director of Force Integration and Operations for the US Army Medical Materiel Agency, a direct reporting unit to the AMLC, where he forecast equipment requirements for all service units. Active, Reserve, and Army National Guard in coordination with the Office of the Surgeon General and Army Headquarters directives.

After serving at the Armed Forces Radiobiological Research Institute at the University of the Uniformed Services in Bethesda, Maryland, Carr returned to Fort Detrick in 2020 to assume his current role at the AMLC.

“The Best Man I Know”

To understand who Carr really is, look no further than her children. They described their father as kind, humble, funny and approachable, but also detail-oriented, understanding, reassuring and genuine in everything he does.

“That’s one of the things he taught me,” said his son, Peerce. “No matter who the person is, try to be nice to them. You don’t know what they’re going through.

His daughter, LaKeesha, who was 17 when Carr married her mother, Gwendolyn, more than 22 years ago, said she remains close to her biological father, but Carr “is the best man I know”.

“He’s gentle, supportive, open, non-judgmental and he really leads by example,” she said. “He speaks and walks as he should.”

LaKeesha, a senior government program officer in Washington, D.C., said her father helped shape her ideals of what she would want in a future husband, instilling in her the importance of leadership and working for what she wants.

“Nothing is worth being easy,” she said. “It’s just like the nickname of my parents’ life. They went through hardships and showed me the courage, resilience and determination to create the life they created.

Along with LaKeesha and Peerce, Carr also helped raise another son, Brein, from a previous relationship.

Looking back on his childhood, Peerce, a junior at Drexel University in Philadelphia studying film and television production, recalls a specific interaction during his teenage years with his father that still resonates with him today.

“He said to me, ‘I just want you to be a better man than me,'” Peerce recalled. “…He never meant it in a way where he wanted me to live up to a certain expectation. He meant to be yourself, to be kind, to be a source of happiness.

“He said it in a way that he was there for me, every day, and that’s exactly what he did,” his son added. “He was always patient with me…and I think that’s how he helped me grow as a man and as a person in general.”

Large models

Although her parents weren’t always present, Carr said there was no shortage of great role models growing up with diverse backgrounds — black, white, male and female — who helped shape her worldview and the values ​​she held. he lives today.

Both sets of grandparents gave direction and focus to his youthful life, while teachers, coaches and other adult figures reinforced his values ​​of family, faith and always working to be a better person for you- yourself and for those around you.

They also helped him develop a willingness to give back. Carr said it’s important, especially for young people today, to know that “your past doesn’t have to be your future.”

Carr lived that same mantra raising his own children, as well as two young nephews to whom he and his wife, also an Army veteran, are now legal guardians.

“I see myself in them,” Carr said of the boys, ages 11 and 6, who come from similar circumstances as he grew up. “I think if my wife and I don’t take them in, they wouldn’t stand a chance of getting out of this.”

Carr continues to take pride in selfless service and giving back to the next generation.

“To me, all the things that everyone else has done for me – because you never do it on your own – is a reflection of the fact that you have to do something bigger than yourself,” did he declare.

“If I had to give my life for my country, I would have done it easily,” added Carr. “I know it’s bigger than me. Even for my family, if I had to give my life to protect them, I would. That’s the whole story.”

Date taken: 02.01.2022
Date posted: 02.01.2022 10:19
Story ID: 413770

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